As elephants get near, people live in constant fear

As per the latest reports available with the Forest Department, so far 75 people have died in elephant attacks in the last 10 years.

As per the latest reports available with the Forest Department, so far 75 people have died in elephant attacks in the last 10 years. | Photo Credit: File photo

Human-elephant conflict is no new phenomenon in villages of Sakleshpur, Alur, and Belur taluks. But these days, herds are spotted closer to human habitation than ever, say the villagers. A tusker is sometimes spotted taking a stroll in the middle of the street in broad daylight, or a herd is seen moving from one farm to another.

Parents remain worried until their children return home after school hours and plantation workers are worried about their safety as they cannot spot an elephant amidst thick greenery.

Earlier this month, a plantation worker in Ballupete was trampled to death by an elephant. The next day, a woman came under the attack and suffered serious injuries. In March this year, two workers in a coffee estate at Kadegarje died in a similar attack.

“People outside the locality do not understand the severity of the problem. The Forest Minister has not bothered to visit our area to assess the situation. Every day, we get video clips and photos showing elephants in different locations. Vast acres of plantation and paddy fields have been damaged,” said B.R. Manjunath, a planter in Sakleshpur taluk.

Members of the Sakleshpur block unit of Congress staged a protest on Bengaluru-Mangaluru Road condemning the government’s inaction. For years, the people of the district have been demanding a permanent solution to the conflict. They want all the elephants roaming in the area captured and relocated. The Forest Department did take up such efforts in the past as well. However, the number of incidents came down only momentarily.

The department has not begun putting up railway barricades to avoid the movement of the elephants. The local people argue that even barricades would not be the permanent solution. There are incidents where elephants have broken the barricades or crossed over.

75 deaths in 10 years

The conflict has a long history in Hassan. Since the 1980s, many incidents have been reported. As per the latest reports available with the Forest Department, so far 75 people have died in elephant attacks in the last 10 years. Besides that, around 30 elephants have died either due to electrocution, gunshot or some other unnatural reason. A tusker was found dead near Areahalli in Belur taluk on Thursday morning with gunshot wounds.

K.N. Basavaraj, Deputy Conservator of Forests in Hassan, said that the department will take up the operation to capture four elephants to radio-collar and relocate them in a week’s time. “We could not take up the operation as per the earlier plan, due to rains. At present, the targeted animals are moving in different places, with a distance of about 40 km from one another. Executing the operation would be difficult. We are focusing on clustering of the animals so that we can capture them easily,” he said.

Four taken into custody

The Forest Deparmtent had taken four people into custody in connection with the death of an elephant due to gunshots. One more person surrendered before the officers on Thursday night. The officers have recovered the rifle and bullets from the arrested.

K.N. Basavaraj, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said the accused had shot the animal in close range. The bullet had hit the skull and reached the brain, killing the animal immediately.

A 20-year-old tusker was found with gunshot wounds in an estate at Malasavara in Belur taluk on Thursday morning.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2022 3:45:05 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/as-elephants-get-near-people-live-in-constant-fear/article65469953.ece